African violets have very fine roots that push through the soil searching for the edges of the container they are planted in. Especially when using self-wateing pots, it is extremely important to use a very light weight non-compacting spoil mixture. Though many recipes can be found for african violet soil (including some mixtures that contain no soil at all!), we have found the recipe below works well for us. Contact us if you would like to try our home made potting mix. It is available in 1 quart zip-lock bags for $2.00 each. All ingredients readily available in home improvement stores, grocery stores, nurserys and other retail outlets.
- 3 parts commercial african violet mix
- 1 part sphagnum moss
- 1 part horticultural vermiculite
- 1 part perlite
- a small handfull of charcoal
Feeding your Violets
Self-watering violet pots provide an easy way to keep the right amount of fertilizer directed at the roots of the plant. Use a mild fertilizer designed for african violets. Mix with water according to the package instructions. Keep a gallon jug of the water and fertilizer mixture available to use when filling the reservoir in your pot. The fertilizer will wick through the pot with the water providing a constant source of food where the plant needs it most, at the roots.
Violet Blooming Tips
In addition to light soil, food and water, violets need light. Bright light is essential for the health of african violets, but direct sun will sunburn the leaves. If you do not have a suitable source of light, try a small fluorescent fixture on a shelf. You do not need expensive grow lights, a simple, inexpensive fluroescent light will do nicely. By contrast, violets also need darkness to rejuvenate. If you use artificial light, be sure you give your plants at least 8 hours of darkness each day. Violets will also boom better if they are slightly root bound. This is one advantage of self watering pots. The roots are encouraged to grow toward the sides of the container where the source of water is. Once they reach the edges of the pot, more energy will be put into blooming rather than growing roots.
Most growers recommend repotting your violets every 6 months or so. Though violets like to be slightly root bound, the roots can become so thick at the edges of the pot that water can no longer wick through to the center of the root ball. Though the reservoir may be full, your violet may actually become too dry to sustain itself.